By Andy Reese
Truth and Lies and You and Me
The Oxford dictionary named “post-truth” its word of the year for 2016. It is defined as: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Telling the truth is less important than being able to influence or manipulate someone to believe what you want them to believe.
We used to call that lying.
To deceive means to “cause to believe a lie”. I intend someone to rely on my word even though I know it is not true. Or perhaps I have simply not taken the time, expended the effort, to insure my word is, in fact, true instead of lies in the guise of fact. I pass on gossip, be it political gossip or personal gossip. God does not distinguish political lies from personal lies. It is not innocent, just naive.
I am not as concerned with the damage my deceit will cause, to an individual or a nation, as I am to influence someone to my way of thinking, and voting, to gain respect, to be seen as smart or with it or relevant.
When one repeats a lie we used to call that lying.
When Satan, the Father of Lies, approached Eve everything he said was the truth – but not the whole truth. But his intent, using half-truth, was pure deceit. It was to cause her to buy into something untrue; to disparage the reputation of the One True God. To destroy a reputation unjustly. And it worked deadly well.
In the last year a torrent of outright “false news” and slanted half-truth stories were propagated, passed along person to person without even the slightest effort at fact checking. Read and click. And this was done by those who call themselves Sons of God, filled with the Spirit of Truth, not of this world. Both Google and Facebook were taken to task for enabling such dishonesty. Google apologized. You and I? Not so much? The church is strangely silent.
We seem to have gained an ability to influence an election by trading away our ability to influence a culture and lost a measure of authenticity, clarity and legitimacy in the bargain.
The church is to be salt, preserving against rot and bringing out the best. But If the salt of the earth loses its saltiness it gets thrown out and trampled underfoot.
We used to call telling half truths lying.
After David attempted to deceive and then conspired to kill the husband of the woman with whom he committed adultery, and then lied about it he is brought face-to-face with both his action and himself. He writes this in Psalm 51: “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. You desire truth in the innermost being. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
His sin, his attempted deception, was ultimately against God; a God who desires truth at the core of His children; uprightness. Truth. At my core.
David called it lying; and repented with weeping and grieving.
Jesus brings the real issue into stark clarity: “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth” (Jn 8)
They did not start as liars. But when I sacrifice speech that is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (in love and for uplifting purposes – Eph 4) on the altar of convenience, manipulation, influence, and self aggrandizement I unwittingly take sides against the Spirit of Truth and with the Father of Lies. And when I continue that practice unrepentant my ears dull to truth, my heart hardens to compassion, and the purity within my innermost being becomes clouded and twisted.
I start to become a liar. And I respond in anger when this is pointed out.
Dear ones, there are lasting and even eternal horrible consequences of our lying.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. What you sow you will reap.” Gal 6:7
“I tell you that men will give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Mt 12:36-38
Paul gives us the simple solution: “Therefore having put off lying falsehood, let each one speak truth with his neighbor, because we are members of one another.”
Put it off. Put lying off.
You need me to do that. I need you to do that.
“Because we are members of one another.”
I need the truth you see and hear. I need it. I am incomplete without the view from where you stand. The puzzle is incomplete without your pieces. I need you to speak truth to me. I need to be able to trust it is true. I need to know when you are not sure, when it is just opinion. I need you to be part of me. I need you to call me on lying. I need you. I need you to speak truth to me. I starve without it. A nation starves.
And maybe, just maybe, you need me to speak truth to you too.
By Andy Reese